The-Dream shared an insightful view of the music business, in this week’s issue of Billboard magazine. As a singer-songwriter, and producer, he’s seen all facets of the industry, and broke down why recording artists are being treated like "slaves," along with pointing out the double standards between Black artists and pop stars like Taylor Swift.
Having recently started a new imprint, Contra Paris — which he noted is a "50/50 partnership" with Capitol Records — the 37-year-old feels that labels turned "evil" once ripping off artists became more important. "Artists are treated like slaves," he said. "We have terrible contracts, we have streaming services that pay one-tenth of a cent per play, we have no laws to protect us."
One solution to the issue would be to "unionize the artists and songwriters," Dream said. "Give them the power to say, 'No, we won’t only take a few cents while you sit back and make all the money [when] we do all the work.'"
In regards to Swift, who pulled her music off of Spotify and recently stood up to Apple Music for not properly compensating artists, Dream broke down the difference between her and others. Though he supports the 25-year-old in going after streaming giants such as Spotify, he can’t necessarily relate. "I can support it, but I could never do the same. I’m Black," he said. "It’s a race thing. It’s always going to be a race thing. For one, if I took my records off of Spotify, it would affect the people who listen to my music for free and may not have the means otherwise. Taylor Swift fans probably have the means to go and buy a Taylor Swift record.
"If you got a hit and you’re white, there are no limits to what you can do. If you’re Black and you have a hit today but can’t do it again tomorrow, then your a** is out of here. When the industry uses you up, that’s it. You’re gone," he explained. "It’s a constant battle for our culture. We can’t say no to radio, we can’t say no to Spotify, and we can’t have a concert because nobody will come. And the whole time, everybody is taking from our culture to enhance the pop side of things. By the way, the pop side doesn’t mean you have to be white. Bruno Mars is pop. Nobody listens to Bruno Mars like he’s a Black artist. Which I’m sure for him, he’s like, 'Thank God.' There are urban artists and then there are pop artists, and urban artists get things taken from them. We create the swag, and everybody knows it."
Naturally, Dream stands with his "good friend" Jay Z's Tidal service. The overall backlash against Hov’s new service is race-related as well, according to Dream. "Apple makes a billion dollars doing something; we have no problem with it," he said pulling from Jay’s public stream of consciousness last month. "We’ll buy 8,000 iPhones. But if a Black man does it, immediately people say, 'Wait, hasn’t he already made enough money?'"
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(Photo: Kris Connor/Getty Images)
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